SKI TOURING – A BOUNDLESS NATURE ADVENTURE
“On my first trips, I did EVERYTHING wrong, but then I learned. And now it’s one of my favorite things to do!” We have taken advantage of mistakes and lessons learned, and talked ski touring with the product developer and ski lover Eva Unell. Here she gives her best tips and advice. She also takes the opportunity to send a shout out to everyone to try hiking on skis.
Ski touring is becoming increasingly popular, and there are as many opportunities and arrangements as there are enthusiasts. A big part of the charm of this winter activity is just that – you’re completely free to choose exactly how you want it. You hike on skis, and there are no trails that you have to follow. You can go hiking almost anywhere, as long as there is snow (in some mountain areas there can be danger of avalanches, so just keep away from those). It can be anything from a one-hour adventure, to a multi-day trip. It will be just as easy, or difficult, as you make it.
So, what is so wonderful about ski touring?
As a guide for the Swedish Tourist Association (STF), Eva has experienced the mountains during all seasons, but she is especially fond of the mountain winter. “It’s a different kind of silence then, not so many distractions. And often there is an incredible shift in the surface, with different types of snow. So, there’s more action when you have skis on your feet. Sometimes it’s completely life-threatening, sometimes super soft. I like that.”
Also, it is the feeling of freedom and peace in combination with challenge and excitement, that Eva thinks makes ski touring so special. “You are truly one with nature. There are no lifts or anything else that disturbs. You are completely alone out there.”
What’s your most beautiful tour experience?
“What you remember most are the hardships, the challenges. There is probably no special occasion, but more the moments when you feel that total feeling of closeness to nature. Then of course, it’s always breathtaking when you get to the top, the sun is shining, and you look out over the landscape. These are the moments that make me love touring.”
Important to remember
Yes, it sure sounds wonderful. And really quite simple. Right? But there are a few things to keep in mind before heading out on a trip, no matter the length of it. Above all, you should not confuse ski touring with cross-country skiing. Skis are skis, you might think, but the differences are many, and big! Cross-country skis are long and made to go on nice, prepared tracks. Tour skis are more like alpine skis – wide with sharp steel edges so that you get firm grip in the turns. So, make sure you have the right skis for the right trip!
You work as a product developer for our clothes. Do you have any smart clothing tips?
“Always go for layer-by-layer, so you can peel one off if you get too warm. I love wool, and always have that as a base and middle layer. But that’s a matter of taste. Then I usually go for windproof instead of waterproof. The Makke Pro collection with jacket and trousers is especially developed for touring. They clothes are waterproof where needed most – on the shoulders, hood, knees and butt. On the body, where you want ventilation, it is instead our LPC (Lundhags Polyester Cotton) which is a mix of organic cotton and recycled polyester. It withstands wind and breathes very well. When it comes to reinforcement garments, I really like our Viik products with their soft, warming primaloft insulation.”
Evas special advice for beginners:
- Do proper research: Where am I going? What am I supposed to do? Check the weather and plan the route.
- Make sure you have the right equipment. There are many places that rent out gear, and will help you find the right one. If you’re going to borrow or buy yourself, turn to someone who knows.
- Make a checklist of things to take with you, and make sure to tick it off properly. It’s not fun to realize in the middle of the tour that you forgot the map, or a warm sweater to wear during the coffee breaks. You find our solid packing list here.
- Start small. Don’t go on a long trip first thing, start with shorter trips and give yourself time to get to know your equipment.
- Join someone who knows what they do. Sign up for a guided tour and take advantage of others’ knowledge and advice.
- You will get the most out of the experience if you are properly prepared and feel that you’re in control. Should the weather change or something else unforeseen happen, it’s always good to feel prepared.
- Take many breaks, and often. Don’t go too far before recharging.
- Pay attention to yourself and your companions – is everyone feeling good? Is anyone freezing?
- If you go out without a guide, tell someone that you’re going on a tour and share the route. Then update the person when you are on your way back again. It’s very important that someone’s aware that you’re out, and where, if anything should happen.
- Don’t stress. Enjoy the tour and really let yourself be in the moment.
This is what you need to bring
What you should pack of course depends on whether it’s a shorter day trip or a multi-day trip, but regardless of the length of the trip, you should always bring a backpack with the following things:
- Sleeping pads (they’re longer than seat pads and can warm both butt, legs and feet)
- Reinforcement garments
- Liquid (hot/cold)
- Medical bag for possible abrasions or injuries
- Sunglasses (very important to avoid snow blindness!)
Any last super tips, in addition to layer-on-layer and to pack light?
“Yes, remember to eat often and little. Keep the energy going so that you don’t freeze, because that makes things hard. Top up with new energy before you really feel you need it. I also always carry boiling water with me, which I pour into a bottle that can handle the heat. Then I can drink lukewarm water during the trip, and avoid it getting icy cold. And finally, my last tip: remember that you don’t have to go far, and it doesn’t have to be in the mountains – you can go ski touring almost anywhere, just put your skis on and go!”
Eva Unell is clothing developer at Lundhags and also educated guide.
The photos in this article is from a ski tour with our ambassador Eva Bromée and a friend.